Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What does love look like?

A couple days ago I blogged that the main word for the church right now is to love one another. I think however that there are a lot of misconceptions about what love looks like so I thought I would compile a list. It is not an exhausted list. Some of the points are self explanatory and with other points I give a little bit of an explanation. Of course there is also the list from Corinthians 13, some of which I list here as well.

First and foremost we can not give love away unless we first receive from the source of all love which is God himself. You can not give away what you do not have! Mother Theresa and her community of sisters would pray for an hour in Eucharistic adoration every morning before they even attempted to serve the poor. We need to be able to first receive Christ's love and then be willing to give it away. The most perfect example of love can be found in the cross.

Love isn't always taking the easy route.
True love is self-sacrificing, putting the needs of others first and our needs last. Love is willing to lay our own lives down for the sake of others.

Love isn't always saying the easy things. Love is willing to say the hard things.
Sometimes because of our love for others and concern for their spiritual well being, we need to be willing to say the hard things that others are not willing to say even when it doesn't seem convenient or popular.

Love is not the same as tolerance.
Especially in our day and age there is a lot of confusion about this. People think it is loving to be tolerant of all behaviors.

Love does not get easily offended.
Have you ever known someone who gets easily offended?  Especially when it is a family member or someone close, it can feel like walking on egg shells. Usually if people are easily offended it is because they are not yet perfected in love. These people need to be shown extra grace instead of getting offended back and getting into arguments.

Love is not arrogant or boastful.
We need to regard others as better than ourselves. We must always be first willing to look at the plank in our own eye before looking at the speck in another person's eye.

Love is patient and kind.
My children challenge me on this one all the time!

Love is not rude.
I'm not sure all churches got this memo when they hired their church receptionist. Of course not my church :)

Love might look different towards a believer and a non believer.
Sin is sin and there are moral absolutes but a believer who knows better will be held more accountable than a non believer. What is most important is that we help non believers encounter Christ and then we can show them the road map. Believers are held to a higher standard. Church leadership and people on the worship team even a higher standard. Believers who know better but continue to deliberately sin need to be confronted. This is a corporal work of mercy.

Love isn't just letting someone do whatever they want.
I belonged to a church once where grace was preached on a regular basis but they had the wrong idea of what true grace really looked like. Their idea of grace was more of a 'cheap grace' like Dietrich Bonhoeffer talked about where there was no cost. This idea of grace is actually harmful to the people involved, hinders their freedom and is not safe for those around them. Real freedom isn't letting someone do whatever they want but helping them be set free from their addictions and mental anguish.

Love is having boundaries.
A child who is able to do whatever he/she wants and whose parents do not set boundaries usually does not feel loved. The reason there are rules in life is for our protection and safety. When we break the rules and fall into sin, we become a little less human. We were all made in the image and likeness of God. Each time we sin, it chips away at our dignity as human persons and tarnishes God's image in us. God, out of his love for us, has rules for us to abide by for our protection. Sometimes love requires us to warn others of the ramifications of their actions.

Love is willing to risk your own reputation for another and be willing to be misunderstood.
Doing the loving thing does not always equal the popular thing and can easily lead to misunderstandings and make us look like we are being unloving.

Love is not judgmental.
There is a difference between deliberately sinning and someone who is struggling with sin. Someone struggling with sin but yet wanting to do the right thing needs to be shown a lot of grace and mercy.

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